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Honda Insight priced; is it really much less than the Toyota Prius?

Honda announced pricing for the 2010 Insight hybrid today, and I rushed it into the database. The 2010 Honda Insight’s base price of $20,470 is over $2,000 less than the MSRP of a base 2009 Toyota Prius. This is the cornerstone of Honda’s strategy with the car.

But the 2009 Prius includes about $1,000 in additional standard equipment, and Toyota has a $500 rebate on it currently. Comparing the two with these adjustments, the Insight is about $975 less comparing base models and $625 less comparing loaded cars. So a gap, but not a large one. Especially when you consider that the Prius is much roomier.

The latter comparison, without the rebate:

Honda Insight vs. Toyota Prius price comparison

Not apparent here, because invoice prices aren’t known: Toyota dealers’ profit margins tend to be much broader, and they’re very willing to deal on the 2009s. So you might well pay less for a 2009 Prius than for a 2010 Insight.

With the price advantage not all that large, handling might instead prove the Honda Insight’s key selling point. I haven’t driven one yet, but read that the Insight handles considerably better than the Prius. Of course, that’s the old Prius: it’s being redesigned for 2010.